Zoning in on a few 2018 albums missing in action that I did not listen enough to at the time to write about has been stimulating.

First up re. drummer Dan Weiss, the leader of the Starebaby group, well flukily enough I did hear him live appearing in the Chris Potter Underground back in the spring and while on that occasion Potter was the main focus of that incredible band I did clock his Pi-released led album at the time.

Returning to it and listening more closely away from distractions, there are a few tracks online via Bandcamp you can check out too, it is very engrossing and packed full of rewarding detail, maybe more so than how I first imagined it.

At the avant prog end of jazz-rock this is pretty electric and loud, brutal and no nonsense. It is not at all snoozy chamber jazz put it that way but it is rockier than when you hear a Chris Potter situation and there is a lot glued into the dissonant synapses clouded by collisions of players flying around especially hurtling upwards from the keys.

With Weiss are the great airily compelling art rock guitarist Ben Monder, think Terje Rypdal a bit, prog electric bassist Trevor Dunn who you might know from RareNoise label output and two keyboardists both avant by reputation collected in a dirty vertigo-inducing avant electro keys/piano pas de deux in Craig Taborn and the Bernian Matt Mitchell. Taborn will be doing a solo show at the Vortex in February. Go if you can. SG

Do you need a producer, ever wondered why certain records are just better? Producers come in all shapes and sizes. The best ones encourage the musicians by just helping them do the thing that they have come to do, getting enough numbers down in a small amount of time and getting the hell out of there, making it easy for them, helping them relax, choosing a good studio and engineer, suggesting tunes, getting the right person to do the charts if necessary and above all alleviating as much stress out of an already stress-y situation as possible.

Musicians, you need someone to do this. They do not have to be qualified but they do need some skills. Oh, like what? All of the above and someone to point out the bum notes and when you come in at the wrong place when your ego won’t admit to anything because of your much needed protective life jacket, pride. 

I was thinking about producer Bob Shad when I was listening to one of his records earlier. A name not half as famous as Ed Michel, Bob Thiele, George Avakian or Teo Macero at this distance but who produced Charlie Parker and much later Janis Joplin just to name two giants of jazz and rock respectively.

If you worked out an average he made about 20 albums a year for 40 years doing his thing. His career began in 1946 for National Records and then Savoy Records and he went on to found Mainstream Records in 1964.

Today’s early morning listening is all Mainstream with a capital M. Enjoy this 1972 semi-forgotten-about album Senyah from one of the greatest drummers alive Roy Haynes, which Shad produced. 

The tunes are by the likes of band members George Adams and Marvin Peterson and with Haynes on drums, timpani, are Peterson, trumpet, Adams tenor saxophone, Carl Schroeder on piano, Roland Prince, guitar, Don Pate, bass and Lawrence Killian, congas.

Shad had also worked with Haynes on the earlier Hip Ensemble which featured a similar line-up.

Finally a quick word on “mainstream” with a lower case “m” as a describer in jazz lingo because it is often used and can refer to a wide swathe of jazz styles. Often in UK jazz lingo anyway it used to refer to a Humphrey Lyttelton-like Buck Clayton or Sweets Edison sound but now “mainstream” can mean “middle of the road” regardless of idiom. It is now so open to a wide interpretation as to be wisely avoided unless you just want to confuse people. SG 

The only surviving member of the classic John Coltrane quartet and one of the most distinguished jazz musicians on the planet marlbank salutes McCoy Tyner who turns 80 this week. His contribution to the practice, expression, and interpretation of jazz as a vital artistic medium is incalculable. Tyner grew up in Philadelphia in a jazz neighbourhood, his neighbours included the hugely influential bebop pioneer Bud Powell whose music touched him deeply. McCoy studied locally at the West Philadelphia Music School to begin with, gigging as a teenager he went on to make his recording debut with the Benny Golson-Art Farmer Jazztet at the end of the 1950s. 

In 1960 he became a member of the John Coltrane quartet and over the next five years made history as part of what is universally regarded as one of the very greatest groups in jazz and whose music still touches jazz lovers deeply to this very day.

Later after Coltrane passed, as a leader of his own groups in later years his compositions too became a striking part of his artistry and are long since part of the wider jazz soundtrack the world over played by many artists who turn especially to ‘Passion Dance’, ‘Contemplation’, and ‘Blues on the Corner’. Marlbank encourages you to listen and spend quality time with the music of the real McCoy right now and into the future.

Tracks played are by:
The Ezra Collective – Pure Shade (Brownswood)

Joe Armon-Jones – We Almost Went Too Far (Brownswood)
Maisha – Eaglehurst / The Palace (Brownswood)
Nubya Garcia – When We Are (Nyasha Records)
Moses Boyd – Axis Blue (Exodus)
Oscar Jerome – Do You Really (Self-released)
Tenderlonious – Yussef’s Groove (22a)
Yussef Dayes & Alfa Mist – Love Is The Message (The Vinyl Factory)
Kamaal Williams – Broken Theme (Black Focus)
Mansur Brown – Shiroi (Black Focus)
Yazmin Lacey – 90 Degrees (First Word)
The Expansions – Ivory Mountain (Albert’s Favourites)
Soothsayers – Tradition (Wah Wah 45s)
Anthony Joseph – Dig Out Your Eye (Heavenly Sweetness)
Emma-Jean Thackray – Ley Lines (The Vinyl Factory)
Don’t Problem – Jacques (Self-released)
Alabaster DePlume – I Want A Red Car (Lost Map)
Capitol K – Landlocked (Faith & Industry)
Ishmael Ensemble – Tunnels (Severn Songs)
Pete Beardsworth – To The Place (Running Circle)
Nat Birchall – A Prayer For (Jazzman)
Chip Wickham – Shamal Wind (Lovemonk)
Emanative – Dawn Child (Sunrise) (Jazzman)
Szun Waves – Constellation (The Leaf Label)
Sarathy Korwar – The Creator Has A Master Plan (Gearbox)
Yazz Ahmed – The Lost Pearl (Hector Plimmer remix) (Naim)
Ben Vince – Alive & Ready (Where To Now?)
Collocutor – Black Satin (On the Corner)
Sons of Kemet – My Queen Is Harriet Tubman (Impulse!)

Today’s afternoon listening is in tribute to Perry Robinson, the clarinettist who died last week aged 80. Influenced by Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry as a sideman he played in the Henry Grimes trio composing the title track of The Call. He was on classic Archie Shepp 1967 record Mama Too Tight and Annette Peacock’s 1972 RCA release I’m The One. Obituary, in German, via the Badische Zeitung.

“Ages” away, falling a few weeks before the Brexitian day of shame: but this is a no-brainer. Guaranteed there will be nothing better on down the Dog and Duck or even The Case Is Altered, Eastcote’s finest pub, some say. Sadly even with the best will in the world The Case is Altered would not be able to squeeze everyone into the back room for Blue Maqams, who play the Barbican a few days this side of St Patrick’s Day come March. More’s the pity. 

A must, “obviously”? Well, m’lud, Anouar Brahem is the best jazz oudist in the world. His deft timbral facility is unsurpassable. There you have it. But also cast your mind back to the brilliant Thimar, an album that also featured Dave Holland who returns to the Brahem universe and is at the heart of the Blue Maqams sound along with the Tunisian master. Subtract John Surman from that formula but add the tabasco of Django Bates and one of the best drummers in the world in Nasheet Waits in for the great Jack DeJohnette as the active ingredients and hey presto. Details.